Around the Institute

West Meets East at Ideas Abu Dhabi

June 4, 2018  • Institute Staff

For the second year, the world’s top leaders, CEOs, scholars, students, scientists, and activists all packed into a university auditorium in the United Arab Emirates for Abu Dhabi Ideas Weekend 2018, held at NYU–Abu Dhabi. The event, a globally focused private conference run by Tamkeen, a Government of Abu Dhabi company, and the Institute, features experts as they explore four different moonshots in a variety of disciplines. This year, former British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed transcending political polarization, Google’s Lily Peng described how machine learning can enhance cancer detection, and French computer-scientist Yann LeCun explored the possibilities and limits of artifi cial intelligence. But it was former French President Nicolas Sarközy, in conversation with Institute Executive Vice President Elliot Gerson, who made headlines—by decrying democracy in favor of strong personalities. “Where you see a great leader, there is no populism,” Sarközy said. “If great leadership leaves the table, the populist leaders come and replace him.” Modern democracy, according to Sarközy, “destroys” leadership: “The great leaders of the world come from countries that are not great democracies.” Sarközy also said that the future of global leadership is in the East: “Today, the world axis is Asian. Out of seven billion inhabitants, four are in Asia; that’s the demography that creates history.” After the discussions, the forum held an Ideas Festival–inspired fair on the large NYU–Abu Dhabi promenade. The festival featured performances, lectures, technology, and food trucks with cuisines from around the world.